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Medal winning para-athlete to drop out of event over lack of funds

Differently-abled arm wrestler Srimant Jha, who has won medals for India, has decided he will not participate in an international tournament this year.

other sports Updated: Oct 27, 2016 15:59 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times
Differently-abled arm wrestler,para-athelete,Olympics
Para-arm wrestler Srimant Jha in action at the 19th World Para-Arm Wrestling Championship.

Differently-abled arm wrestler Srimant Jha, who has won medals for India, has decided he will not participate in an international tournament this year.

Jha, who was born with four fingers in both his hands, has been selected to represent India in the 16th Zloty Tur Cup that will be held Poland from November 18 to 22.

The 25-year-old Bhilai resident took the decision to drop out of the tournament after the Indian Arm Wresting Federation wrote to players on October 21 that it does not have the enough funds to support players and told them to manage on their own. Hindustan Times has a copy of the federation’s letter.

Jha has been asked to arrange Rs 1.52 lakh.

“I am representing the country but no one is coming forward for me. The federation is running out of funds hence every player has to arrange the money. Other players have sponsors or the state government helps them but in my case I am alone,” Jha told Hindustan Times.

He said his family managed to send him to the international para-arm wrestling tournaments in 2014 and 2015 when he won two medals - one silver and one bronze - for India. He has also won six golds in national para-arm wrestling championships.

“My mother sold her jewellery in 2014 for Rs 60,000 to send me to Poland where I had won a silver for India in the world championship,” Jha said.

Jha has to submit the required documents as well as the money by November 2 and says he has tried to arrange for the money but no one has come forward to help him.

“I met the chief minister twice. He promised to help me but nothing was done. I don’t want assurances now; I want a government job so that I can bear my expenses,” Jha, who works with a private company on a salary of Rs 13,000 per month, said.

Jha wanted to play football at school level but was rejected because of his non-functional right hand. He then joined a nearby gym and learnt para-wrestling and started practising.

“I was rejected by many private organisations during college campus because I am a disabled person and I got this job after hundreds of attempts. Why is not the government bothered about me when I am making my country proud?” he asked.

Jha is not the only athlete to complain about the lack of funds.

In January this year, five-time winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan pulled out of the Luge World Championships in Germany and the remaining part of the World Cup circuit because he did not have the money.

Keshavan also considered retirement alleging official apathy after his application for government funding was turned down by the Union sports ministry.

An IndiaSpend analysis of spending on Olympics, in particular, and sports in general in August said that India spends roughly a third to a fourth of the money spent by the United Kingdom, which won 67 medals, compared to India’s two — and central funding to sports federations is falling.

Experts also say sports is rarely at the top of parents’ agenda and an absence of sports culture also adds to the problem.

First Published: Oct 27, 2016 15:59 IST